I was a very young teenager when I discovered Elizabeth Taylor. She was also very young, though a bit older than I, but already a star and the most beautiful woman who could ever be. I have never stopped believing that. I have not watched a movie with her in it for a very long time.
Today I saw most of the Taylor/Burton/Zeferelli Taming of the Shrew. She was breathtaking as always. Burton looked so young an vital, not the picture of the alcohol sodden man I carry in my mind. The play itself is over the top, the movie, especially with Zeferelli's sets and costumes, was over the top. Who cares? This was a total visual treat and Shakespeare be damned.
The coordinator of the course in which this was shown [last week we saw the Pickford/Fairbanks version] asked what obligation does a movie maker have to Shakespeare. I didn't speak up -- many others did, complaining that neither movie was true to the Bard. I don't think movie makers have, or even should have, an obligation to the original source -- they butcher living writers' work; should we expect any greater fidelity to a long dead writer even if he was the greatest dramatist in the English language? Of course not. It's entertainment, pure and simple. If Hollywood ever attempts Shakespeare [very rare!] we should rejoice. A few of the "rabble" will become acquainted in some way with the great man. This movie was a money maker after the flop of the ridiculously expensive Cleopatra. Hurrah! People saw it, some people realized they could enjoy Shakespeare, maybe a few even went to see other Shakespeare production, even on stage. Who knows? I know young people discovered Shakespeare because of Zeferelli's overwrought [but beautifully photographed] Romeo and Juliet. Meanwhile I"m just as amazed by, and painfully jealous of, Liz's perfect face and incredible eyes as I was when I was 15. Many women are very beautiful but Taylor had a special perfection, and she actually could act.
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